Whether you’re a semi-pro or more likely to spend your day hacking away in a blind rage, you may as well do it with a scenic backdrop. Fortunately for golfers who find themselves in New South Wales, exceptional play and superb scenery are just a short jaunt from the CBD.
The next stop on our nationwide tour to find the best 18s this side of Augusta takes us south, to ten of the best Sydney golf courses any serious swinger could have the privilege of playing.
Royal Sydney Golf Club | Rose Bay
Green fee: Try getting a membership or an invite first, then we’ll talk
The Royal Sydney features on this list for two reasons: first, because it is a multi-time host of the Australian Open and second, and most importantly, because it is the hallowed ground on which John Daly set a career highlight by breaking a spectator’s camera in 2008.
Royal Sydney is as old-school as they come. It’s the sort of place where earning membership involves an absurd waiting list and references from powerful people. There are no fancy waterworks or signature holes, just a classic round of treacherous play that makes for one of the most rewarding experiences in Australian golf. You can even get a spot of croquet in after your round, should you and your chums feel like it.
The Australian Golf Club | Rosebery
Green fee: Members & invitees only
Whether you believe in heaven, nirvana, or any other kind of paradise, this is as close as it’s possible to get down under – golfically speaking, that is. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, The Australian is the oldest golf course in the country, predating the Royal Melbourne Golf Club by over a decade, and the birthplace of the Australian Open.
Though the course was remodelled in recent years, it still hosts the Cadogan Cup, which made its debut at the club in 1884 and is Australia’s oldest golf trophy. Those lucky enough to be granted entry to The Australian play in a rare mix of modern conditions and historic company.
New South Wales Golf Club | La Perouse
Green fees: Members & invitees only – some public slots provided you have an official handicap
Equally as exclusive as Royal Sydney (yet somehow less intimidating), the NSW Golf Club makes the most of its rugged coastal surroundings. Players who make the pilgrimage to its undulating fairways and small greens find themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature, who sees fit to test them with fickle sea winds and the vast water hazard of Botany Bay.
The club’s signature hole is the 6th, an iconic par 3 perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the wreck of the SS Minmi. It could also wreck your scorecard. The course is so challenging that players must have a handicap below 27 to get on the tee.
The Lakes Golf Club | Eastlakes
Green fees: $250 when playing at the invitation of a member, $350 when playing as an uninvited guest
To the uninitiated, The Lakes is just that extra-fancy golf club next to Sydney Airport. To the enlightened, however, it’s a world-class course with a rolling layout and a prestigious tournament history, including hosting the Australian Open for three straight years in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Becoming a member of The Lakes requires at least four referees, a letter of recommendation, an interview and the submission of your CV. That’s not a joke, but if you (understandably) choose to forgo that for now, playing The Lakes will cost you a pretty penny.
St. Michael’s Golf Club | Little Bay
Green fees: $88
Sharing the same stretch of coastline as the New South Wales Golf Club, St. Michael’s is the rare golf club with a green fee listed on their website. A manageable $88 earns you access to a rolling links layout and ocean views that evoke thoughts of Scotland’s famous St. Andrew’s, with NSW’s local scenery adding to the charm.
While St. Michael’s is still in the upper echelon of Sydney golf courses, its generous fairways make for fairly forgiving golf at times, perfect for those looking to take a step up from the public course.
Long Reef Golf Club | Collaroy
Green fees: $55-$65
As you’ve surely caught onto by now, ocean views are kind of a big deal when it comes to designing top-shelf golf courses in Sydney. Thanks to is prime positioning in the Northern Beaches, Long Reef Golf Club boasts sightlines all the way to the Central Coast in the north and Manly in the south. Designer Peter Thomson even went so far as to describe it as “the best site of any golf course in Sydney”.
As a Group 1 course, Long Reef has hosted many of the qualifying rounds for both the Australian and NSW Opens. It also doubles as an excellent beachfront venue for weddings, birthdays, and other celebratory occasions.
Bankstown Golf Club | Milperra
Green fees: $60
Despite its unassuming location in Sydney’s west, Bankstown Golf Club is regularly featured amongst the city’s best golf courses. Don’t be fooled by the nondescript entryway – pass through and you’ll be greeted by an urban oasis of tree-lined fairways on the banks of the Georges River.
Like many a parkland course dotting suburban Sydney, Bankstown Golf Club combines stunning scenery and immaculate year-round care to offer an upper-crust golfing experience in any season. The lack of ocean winds is an added bonus for players who prefer to avoid the whims of nature.
Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club | Colebee
Green fees: $50-$55
Simpsons references aside, Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club is a hidden gem in the far west of Sydney. You’ll find it nestled in one of the few places around Eastern Creek still untouched by the gradual urbanisation of Greater Western Sydney, featuring a tricky layout designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman.
The course was crafted with three distinct landscaping themes in mind. Each aspect complements the overall development and provides a range of sensory experiences as players travel around the course. Expect a seriously challenging round of golf, with unforgiving bunkers and bountiful water features.
Mona Vale Golf Club | Mona Vale
Green fees: $29.50-$65
Another Group 1 course, Mona Vale regularly plays host to the NSW Amateur Championship. Though it has a more approachable feel than some of its Sydney counterparts, it’s regarded as one of Australia’s best courses (at least amongst the crowd that clocks in at under $50 a round).
Mona Vale brings together two distinct types of course for a well-rounded experience. Prepare to be frustrated for the first 10 holes as you snake your way through woody, hilled terrain, before holes 11-18 flatten out around the coastline.
The Coast Golf Club | Little Bay
Green fees: $25-$50
Why settle for one golf course in a suburb when you can have two? Undeterred by the neighbours, the folks at The Coast Golf Club couldn’t resist sticking another 18 holes right next to the aforementioned St. Michael’s – and charging less for the privilege of playing.
Though it’s easier on the wallet, it’s no less of a challenge. The Coast makes full use of the views Botany Bay and its surroundings are famous for, and boasts tight fairways and challenging greens designed to give any player a run for his money.
Thanks to the golfing silver fox aka Mr.Graf for assisting with this list.